“You have been scheduled . . .”

Emily Jensen is a former BCC permablogger and friend of the blog.

“You have been scheduled to meet with XXXXX XXX for a meeting Tuesday June 18th at 7 p.m. for your ministering interview.”

“Your family has been scheduled to clean the church on Saturday, June 22nd at 8 a.m. Please meet with the XXXX family up at the church.”

Ok, hopefully this is only happening in my ward, but in case it’s not, let’s talk about the new, and dare I say, rude habit of scheduling people to do things in the church without first asking if they are even available.

First, let’s back up. So there was an amazing churchofjesuschrist.org blog post recently titled “Enough, Already” where a woman describes the very healthy habit (with a shout-out to Brene Brown) of setting boundaries in saying no as not to stretch oneself thin. She concluded “I’m convinced that my Heavenly Father wants me to grow, but He also gives me permission to do it at a pace that won’t induce adult meltdowns. Consider a world where we can feel empowered to say a decisive yes when we can and no when we need to. What a relief. What freedom. Want to meet for lunch and talk about it this week? No? I’m totally okay with that.”

Please go read it.

Ok, now that you’re back, do you see why this practice of not even checking with someone if they are available to do what you are asking is a step backwards from not even feeling like one can say no. There’s enough pressure (sometimes leaning into spiritual abuse, imo) in church settings to not say no that what does it mean that your agency is completely leapfrogged in this matter.

This is practice should be stopped immediately. We have technological tools that allow for signups (in fact our stake has a temple recommend Calendry sign-up page so as to not waste anyone’s time unnecessarily). And we need to use them. Or just go the old fashioned way of doing sign-up sheets. I don’t care. If we can’t get people to sign-up we need to evaulate why, not just steamroll them.


  1. Volunteer stressed out leaders deserve the same mercy and understanding stressed out members deserve.

  2. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    Not just your Ward. Every Ward I’ve attended. I would love to condemn this practice as a nefarious plot to circumvent agency, but it’s really just the result of laziness and a general lack of respect for others. Someone can’t be bothered to put forth the effort to schedule with me, individually (which is burdensome to them, I’ll admit), and assumes their calling/ position affords them the power to just tell people when to show up. When you see this practice, it’s simply an indicator of poor leadership.

  3. latam girl says:

    Our ward has a rotating (pre-assigned/”scheduled”) cleanup schedule and we know generally three+ months in advance. The person who organizes is honestly is doing his best and isn’t trying to be lazy by pre-assigning but rather giving people ample heads-up so that they can switch with someone else (if they want to do it that often). About 5-6 families are scheduled for a rotating nearly every other month assignment. Yes, it’s slightly onerous but there is an understanding (and it’s made clear by the organizer) that the frequency and number of families assigned takes into account people being gone, unable to help, etc., so that on average, really, we’re there every quarter or so. I see no problem with doing this and it’s not an indication of poor leadership.

    Ministering interview schedules–if you can’t make the time you’ve been “scheduled” just say no, I can’t make that time.

  4. The alternative is that nobody volunteers and then the building cleaning coordinator is left holding the bag.

    I heard of one who decided that if nobody signed up, he wouldn’t step in and make up the difference by himself—he’d just let he building be dirty. Some members complained about the work not getting done, and he told him it’s because nobody volunteered to do it, and then people signed up next time.

  5. Observer says:

    I am responsible for cleaning the building each week (every other year, we swap with the other ward).

    When I got the calling, I was told that I needed to assign people weeks to clean, or I would always be doing it by myself. Fortunately, that has proven false. To date, I have had people sign up almost every week (except for one week this year), and I only had one week where the volunteers didn’t show. And they notified me in advance because of a death in the family.

  6. The needs of the individual are subordinate to the needs of the organization. Those who can get the most blood from the turnips rise in the management hierarchy.

  7. Not a Cougar says:

    Emily, I echo your comments on over-scheduling (having been over-scheduled myself) and believe it’s critical to say no to many Church-related events including seemingly “mandatory” events like leadership meetings or youth activities. However, I feel a distinct lack of sympathy when it comes to people who believe they can’t fit building cleaning into their schedules. It’s a collective good that we all use to some degree, and unless and until Church leaders reinstate custodial services, we all bear a collective responsibility for its upkeep. Unfortunately, many, many members do not feel that responsibility and are more than happy to not volunteer or to say no when asked (I know this from painful experience). For building cleaning, I do not think it’s rude to schedule someone and then put the onus on the person to either show up or trade assignments with another person so long as that person is aware that trading is allowed and encouraged as well making the cleaning block wide enough to accommodate most schedules (Friday afternoon to Saturday afternoon for example – I prefer to clean Friday evening). Otherwise, you’re simply offloading the cleaning responsibility onto people who are willing to say yes (or have a tough time saying no – like the lady in the article) and are almost certainly the ones who are probably already overburdened.

  8. Grant Adams says:

    Unfortunately, yes in my ward. Last time it happened for an interview I simply didn’t respond and didn’t show up. You don’t owe a response if you didn’t initiate the request. They tried again with a dose of passive – aggressive shaming asking me to confirm if I would show or not to an appointment I didn’t request! Out of sympathy for the clerk, I did reply letting them know I knew how to get in touch with the Bishop if / when I needed. As for building cleaning, it comes back to boundary setting. Until enough members ‘opt out’ and refuse to be volunteer janitors on top of everything else they’re expected to contribute – the church has no reason to re-evaluate the status quo.

  9. Anon today says:

    Hmm, yes. I was “scheduled” (without consultation) last year to appear for tithing settlement at a given time, which would have required me to hoof it down a hill and back up, well after dark, during a stormy winter week. No thank you.

  10. nobody, really says:

    In my last ward, this happened all the time. We’d call a new building cleaning coordinator. He or she would draft a list, putting all families in the ward in alphabetical order by last name and grouping them 3 or 4 families each week. My family would regularly be the only ones that showed up. We’d even see other families on the list for that day in the building for other events, and they would explain that they couldn’t stay to help but good luck. I’ve had 8- and 9-hour Saturdays cleaning. Finally, there would come a week when none of the scheduled families would bother to show up and the building would be filthy, or a Saturday night activity wouldn’t clean up after themselves so we would get a long lecture about fulfilling our Gospel Responsibilities and Living Up To Our Covenants. The building cleaning coordinator would ask to be released. We would call a new one, and he or she would draft a list, putting all families in the ward in alphabetical order by last name and grouping them 3 or 4 families each week. Because my last name is near the beginning of the alphabet, I’d be at the top of the list again, so I had some years where I’d have to clean the building six times, in a building with three wards and a ward with 350-400 active.

    Now I just spend 4 hours every month cleaning the building. When I get to 4 hours, I pack up and go home. No family with fast offering assistance has showed up to help this year.

  11. When it comes to the building cleaning, I agree with others that so many people won’t sign up on their own, leaving the responsibility to a few families or to the person overseeing the cleaning. While clearly not a perfect solution, assigning people to do it seems a better way to handle it than most of the alternatives.

    The most extreme example I’ve seen is in a branch we lived in where all the sacrament meeting talks were assigned several months in advance, and a paper with those assignments was posted on the church bulletin board. You were expected to check the board to know whether or not you were giving a talk, and the whole branch would know as well. I can only assume that this practice started when some counselor in the branch presidency got tired of spending an inordinate amount of time trying to secure speakers each week.

  12. Lauren Arrington says:

    Our ward does this, and for the most part we try to comply with the “schedule.” But there was a time that lines were crossed in a manner that left me feeling panicked. We were brought into the gym, the doors were closed and “guards” were put in place in front of the doors. We were given a contract to sign stating how many hours a week we would pledge to do indexing that month, and that would be our ticket to being released from the room. I was in shock, and immediately got up and left, getting a finger wag from the “guard” at the door as I did. It still leaves me fuming that they thought that was acceptable. While I can recognize after the fact that they probably thought this was just fun and clever, for me it brought back every powerless moment I had ever experienced in my life. If people aren’t signing up to help clean, or attend interviews, or agree to every calling, or whatever else the leaders feel is “required” of them, above all else, they need to respect what our church supposedly values above all else, free agency.

  13. Jack of Hearts says:

    My ward does this and I actually don’t have a problem with this as long as (as others have pointed out) it is crystal clear that families can trade to meet their needs. It helps everyone have months to plan for their assignment, which has been a welcome change to scrambling every week to find people. Still about half the people in my ward don’t show up, but at least the work is then spread over the other half instead of the handful of stalwarts who volunteer. I also appreciate how it prevents long back and forth of “Here are times we need, when can you help?” “XXXX weekend.” “Sorry, four other families asked for that weekend since I contacted you. What other weekend?” I’ve been on both ends of that kind of conversation and it’s never pleasant.

  14. Stephen Fleming says:

    Having just given my ward a little speech during sacrament meeting announcements linking building clean up to building Zion, let’s just point out that callings, talks, and prayers are generally done by assignment. We all covenant with each other at baptism and in the temple so let’s help each other out and not leave the burden of cleaning to a few people. Sign up sheets are fine if sign up sheets work. But making requests to people is also a standard practice in the church.

  15. Not a Cougar says:

    nobody, my experience has been that no matter what system you try to implement, you need someone who has a general sense of what’s going on in the ward (those who truly cannot show up) coupled with a willingness to push against those who really just don’t want to show up. It’s not a fun job, but I’m not willing to worship in a filthy church just to try to send a message to Church leaders (and one that won’t be received). If not paying janitors frees up funds for buildings in less affluent countries for my brothers and sisters there, I’m happy to clean the toilets.

  16. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    “No family with fast offering assistance has showed up to help this year.” – There are so many things wrong with this comment. I really don’t know where to start.

  17. Not a Cougar says:

    Turtle, regardless of whether its appropriate to comment on the absence of certain people at building cleaning, expecting ward members on assistance to show up just like every other member of the ward is not inappropriate (assuming they are not otherwise engaged during that time and have the ability to get to the building). Asking people who receive assistance to provide service beyond that expected of all other members in the ward is.

  18. I agree with most responses here. Assigned dates for building cleaning provided well in advance to allow schedule trading: acceptable. Short notice assignments for discretionary meetings: not acceptable.

  19. I’m in charge of coordinating ministering interviews for our ward. I call, schedule people who say yes, and leave messages for the rest of them. If they don’t respond, they aren’t scheduled. Last night one counselor didn’t have anyone to see, one had two people, one at 7pm and the other at 8:15, and the president was busy from 7 to 8:30.

    Our building cleaning coordinator schedules everyone for the month our ward is assigned. He clears the list with the bishop, posts in in the ward bulleting staring two weeks before, and calls on Friday the day before your assignment. When my wife and I are assigned, we take one task and leave a note.

  20. Sign up sheets and volunteer scheduling can be both a massive headache and a logistical nightmare (the technology exists to make it easy, but good luck getting people to use it). So simply making assignments often makes a lot of sense. However, I learned on my mission that even when you’re making an assignment, people react much more positively if you frame it as a request or question: “Brother and Sister Soandso, we need X people to clean the chapel on Y date. Would your family come help?”

  21. Jack Hughes says:

    My last ward used to do this with missionary team-ups–where the adult men were each assigned one evening a month to accompany the full-time elders during their proselytizing. There was also the expectation that you would find your own substitute if you couldn’t make it. We also got many manipulative lectures about it being a “priesthood duty” and whatnot. I considered this program unreasonable, so I refused to participate. But instead of passive-aggressively ghosting, I politely told the person in charge not to add me to the calendar ever again. A few months later, they stopped doing team-ups altogether.

    If more people are willing to flatly refuse to participate involuntarily or be coerced (and not just flake out with no explanation), the more likely these programs are to disappear.

  22. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    It’s simply inappropriate to be paying attention to whether those on any assistance participate in such things. There are any number of categories of people who may be shirking Ward responsibilities – members of the Bishopric, those with children, those without children, those with Stake callings, women who work outside the home, parents who coach little league baseball, single parents, etc. But these categories weren’t invoked. The implication was that, indeed, those receiving some form of assistance were under increased expectations. They may not have been expected to provide service beyond that expected of all other members of the Ward, but they seem to be held to a higher standard. Those who are recipients of church assistance (fast offering, or other) should never be defined by that, and have absolutely no added obligations. Period.

    I grew up during a time when those who were receiving aid or were otherwise unemployed/underemployed were tasked with cleaning the building. Everyone knew why they were given that responsibility, and it was humiliating for many. So glad we have moved away from this. If I pay fast offerings, and that local money makes its way to your family, you don’t owe me anything – not even the appearance that you are grateful, or simply showing up to things.

  23. Michael H. says:

    I’ll admit that callings where the primary responsibility has been managing sign-up sheets have been the most dispiriting ones I’ve ever held. For instance, I was Temple Coordinator for several years in two wards; because our ward temple trip times and dates were already assigned by the temple/stake, I was responsible for advertising the trips and making sure there were enough seats in our vehicle caravan. Without fail, however, half the people who signed up would never show up, and an indeterminate number who *hadn’t* signed up would come. When the bishopric would ask me how many people were coming, I eventually resorted to shrugging and saying, “We’ll see.” So I’ve got some sympathy for managers of sign-up sheets.

    I was also executive secretary in a ward of 30-40 people, and it felt like bureaucratic busywork to relay scheduling requests back and forth. Your ward’s Calendly idea is golden.

  24. Chadwick says:

    I’m sympathetic to chapel cleaning. But the rotation the last several years seems to always have my family getting assigned the July 4 weekend and sometime during winter break. We normally aren’t around at those times. I reached out to the entire list of families assigned that month to swap. No one even responded to my swap request. So we didn’t show up. I tried.

    In the summer, Saturday morning at 8 am just doesn’t work for our swim-team family. Since I have a church code, we started going on Friday night, and would leave a note on the door of the janitor closet letting them know what we cleaned. The ward council literally went berserk over this. Half of them told us to never do that again; to come when you are told. The other half couldn’t believe how clever we were to keep our obligation without cancelling other family commitments (as though thinking outside the box is so revolutionary). Why something so stupid was even a discussion point in ward council baffles me. I just can’t even.

    On the weeks we are the only family there, we clean for an hour and we leave.

    Ministering interviews make me bananas. No, I will not stay after church 35 minutes after it’s ended with four young kids who haven’t eaten lunch yet for something we could discuss over the phone. Do the dang interviews during second hour.

    I really like serving in the church most of the time. But what I hate is when leadership acts like my time restraints aren’t a real thing. They are

  25. nobody, really says:

    The order came down from our stake presidency that families receiving fast offering assistance would be asked to agree to a few basic things – attend Sunday meetings, pay tithing, participate in self-reliance classes, and participate in building cleaning and/or other service to the extent they are able. They may also be asked to sign up with temp agencies, get job training, or sit down with me for a review of their resume and job interview practice. The stake provided sheets for the elder’s quorum presidency and/or Relief Society Presidency to review and sign with people. These sheets are kept on file and reviewed on a periodic basis. We also require that people provide receipts for the expenses we pay. Some people refuse, we get dinged on the audit, and then people wonder why we refuse to help them the following month.

    And, for what it’s worth, cleaning the building isn’t an increased expectation. Every member here is asked to clean the building every month. We figure it’s part of ‘bearing one another’s burdens’.

  26. I had a High Priest group leader who referred to this practice, in ward council meeting, as “Satan’s plan.”

  27. Here Comes the Ox Cart says:

    What was silly on the last go-around for our ward was being assigned to help clean without any thought for the fact that our callings have us driving to and attending church (and cleaning that building 6x/year) in another building in another stake and we hadn’t attended in our home unit’s building for years. That they were surprised at the NOPE we gave them was even more stunning.

  28. Ministering interviews? (I believe I was last asked about any family assigned to me three, maybe four, wards ago. We haven’t moved.)
    I pick up a dozen donuts when it’s my week to clean the building. Since we have more children in primary than adults in the ward and most of the adults are younger than my children, it seems to be a hit.

  29. My family used to enjoy cleaning the building together when we were able to do it on our own schedule. Now that the building is off-limits during the week to anyone who doesn’t hold keys, the assigned time conflicts with other commitments, and the names are only listed in a bulletin that is usually gone by the time we arrive on Sunday, we usually don’t participate. I wonder if there would be better support if members were treated like it is actually our building to use and that we are responsible to clean by being able to choose when we will do it.

  30. Guilty! I am in charge of scheduling ministering interviews for my RS presidency. I started off last summer by calling people the week prior and asking if they would be available this Sunday for a ministering interview 30 minutes before Sacrament or immediately following RS. I left A LOT of messages. I sometimes called 20+ people in a week and got less than 5 appointments scheduled (My 4 year old memorised my phone number I repeated it so often, which was a surprise bonus). People would show up without responding to me and then be angry that “their” slot was already occupied, or that there wasn’t anyone there to meet with them.

    Eventually, to make things easier on me my RS President asked if I would like to simply schedule sisters, let them know their scheduled time, and then see how that goes. I figured, sure. If the Executive Secretary can call me up and say “Sister, the Bishop would like to meet with you on Sunday at 5 pm” and I make that work, I should be able to do the same for the RS President and her counselors.

    So now, I make my schedule at the end of each quarter, wait for new routes to be finalised on the last day of the quarter, and then start emailng, texting, and mailing postcards to everyone. Then, for the rest of the weeks all I have to do is text or call ~ 12 people to remind them. Those first few people are unlucky enough to get a week’s notice but some people get as many as 11 weeks notice. They are invited to ask me to reschedule, and honestly, not many of them do.

    I get that people don’t want to get to church 30 minutes before 9 am church, or that they’ve not contacted their sisters for 2+ months and they’re embarrassed, or that their family is sharing a car and they don’t want to get everyone loaded up to wait while mom does this. But, they can just say no thanks, I can’t do that. I’m not going to get offended, I’m just doing my job here. I will ask if they want to reschedule but if they say no, I’m fine with that, too. I’ll report it on to my RS Pres so she can do whatever she does, but I’m not going to think about it again until next quarter, when I offer them a slot again.

    TL;DR I do this because it’s the only way I can think of (weekly requests, quarterly scheduling, quarterly signups) that saves me hours a week. If anyone has any other ideas for me to run past my RS pres, I’ll give them a shot.

  31. Some of y’all? I wouldn’t want to join your church.

    And for everyone, “No.” is a complete sentence. Do what you can, when and where you can.

  32. As RS activities leader I started including ministering interviews every 3rd month during the activity. Those months, I plan an open house type activity where people could easily come and go. RS presidency would each take a classroom and pull in anyone who was ready to go next. Interviews take 5-10 minutes. A bonus for me as activities leader, we had several sisters who hadn’t been to a RS activity in YEARS started coming, even if for a few minutes before or after their interviews. Been doing this almost a year and it has saved SO much time for everyone.

  33. CS Eric mentioned ministering interviews. I am the second counselor in my ward’s EQ and we ran into the same issues. During a recent presidency meeting the president asked how improve the interviews while acknowledging the time demands that come with those interviews. My suggestion was to stop doing the scheduled interviews and encourage the brethern to meet with us if and when they felt the need, with the caveat that we will check in occasionally just to see how they and their families are doing – hopefully in a more informal setting . For example, we know are doing their ministering and are on top of letting the appropriate people know if there are concerns to be addressed. So why spend time scheduling an interview to go over things we already know?

    So what we are doing instead is to focus on the Christian nature of ministering and less on trying to determine what constitutes “proper” ministering. The idea is that if the brethern can be convinced that even the smallest act of charity/kindness/service is ministering then we can hopefully avoid inadvertently making them feel like they are not doing their part.

  34. Not a Cougar says:

    Tracy, why? And the problem is that too many people choose not to do anything making harder for the people who do make the effort.

  35. “As RS activities leader I started including ministering interviews every 3rd month during the activity. Those months, I plan an open house type activity where people could easily come and go. RS presidency would each take a classroom and pull in anyone who was ready to go next. Interviews take 5-10 minutes. A bonus for me as activities leader, we had several sisters who hadn’t been to a RS activity in YEARS started coming, even if for a few minutes before or after their interviews. Been doing this almost a year and it has saved SO much time for everyone.”

    I LOOOOVE this idea. So much that I’m going to run it past my RS activities leader. We could combine it with an open house about other things, like a tasting table. And put togther a slideshow that we’ll have running on loop of “things we did this year we are proud of.” The sisters could come up whenever during those two hours and the RS presidency could see how much they could get done.

  36. EmJen, hope it works for you! The first one I did was “stress relief” we made stress balls, had adult coloring pages and seats for visiting. Second was a “spa day” and third a yoga night. Next is an end of summer root beer float and organization tools night. Our bishop wants rs activities every month, so the 2 in between these open house ones end up more education/structured.

  37. I prefer the minor annoyance of being assigned to the major annoyance of being the only one to volunteer.

    As long as it’s clear that people are welcome to reschedule or decline if their assigned time is inconvenient, I don’t consider it rude to make an initial effort to unilaterally schedule members for meetings/activities/service.

  38. thegenaboveme says:

    I haven’t shown up for my scheduled building cleaning in my most recent ward. (Three years and counting.) But I do show up weekly on my own to scrub down the room where nursery is taught. I actually do this on Sunday before any of the wards meet. (Shhh.) I am the only nursery leader / teacher in the three wards who has adult children. I also don’t have building keys. So I just designed a cleaning assignment that I view as win-win-win. Now, official people would scold me for taking initiative and cleaning on Sunday, and someone did a huge “cluck cluck” about the vacuum being in the hall ON THE SABBATH (but no “cluck-cluck” about ground food in the carpet when two dozen or more toddlers come in and out of that space all day). But I am am ready to ask for forgiveness rather than permission about dying in this filthy nursery room carpet molehill.

  39. I am the building guy and this is how it works for our one ward building:

    The Bishopric has families assigned on a 10-week rotation. 5 or 6 families are assigned for each week. The families names appear in the bulletin for the rolling three weeks. I send an email to the families the week they are assigned to remind them this is their week for cleaning. Those assigned have the option of getting together at their convenience. There is no date set or time to meet. If they want to meet together, fine; if they don’t fine. Clean any day on the week you are assigned. No one/family is required to do all the work. If members can’t work out swaps, they’ll be up again soon enough.

    I put together a checklist based on the church cleaning instructions. I ask members to initial the tasks they did so others who come at another time don’t duplicate the work. Copies are kept in the members closet, and a copy is sent with the email reminder. I don’t track who shows up and who doesn’t. I just look to see if something was missed, I can let next weeks crew know.

    I purchased a lockbox and hung it on an exterior door with my building key inside. The combination is changed weekly (or thereabouts) and the families are informed of the “secret combination” in the email.

    If any work is not done, it does not fall to me to do it. In the past two years, we had one week when we were short-handed. I told those who were available to do the restrooms first and if they had the time and energy, they could do the chapel and no more.

    That said, the whole thing is nuts.

  40. Bro. Jones says:

    Greg, that lockbox idea is wonderful. Two “assignments” ago I made an effort to get to the ward (60-min round trip) but didn’t have the key and was unable to get ahold of one until about 8pm. I had to wake up early the next day so I returned the key at 9pm and apologized.

    I’m pretty fed up with cleaning. Big roundtrip, I’ve got little kids (1 too little to help), and when I do show up I’m fairly certain that we’re the only family that does. Our ward’s bathrooms are routinely disgusting and some great person keeps leaving dirty diapers in the mother’s room trash. If leadership doesn’t care about having a welcoming building, I ain’t gonna lead the charge to personally make it that way.

  41. Angela C says:

    For ministering interviews, I do a sign up genius with two different sets of time slots available when it’s time to do them: Thursday evenings (at my house) and Sunday afternoons (at my house). Then when/if they don’t show, I haven’t made a special trip. Our ward building is 10-15 minutes each way. Several sisters have asked to do it before or after church. I can do after but not before, and I am always willing to do those if I’m in town. The sisters who don’t sign up or respond, I text or do a phone call to get their update. That’s how we get ours done.

    As to building cleaning, my biggest objections are 1) it’s always at 8AM on Saturday, which during the school year is the only day I can sleep in thanks to early morning seminary which is hell on earth, 2) I never know when we are scheduled. I think they send it to my husband’s email, so he just goes. Whatever.

    I do think there’s some benefit to having members clean the church (less likely to trash the place or leave a big mess), as well as some drawbacks as well (“same ten people” problem, and nobody is really trained on how to use the cleaning equipment or products that I’ve seen). I’m old enough to remember having a professional janitor clean it. Those were the days!

  42. I have to disagree that members cleaning the church makes it less likely to leave a big mess — at least not in my stake. We have 3 wards and stake offices in our building. The mess makers simply assume that someone else will have been assigned to clean up on Saturday morning at 8am. We have dealt with a turkey left in the oven for 2 weeks (stake conference at a different building on the intervening Sunday so no one noticed at one week) and I have personally dealt with being the only one out of 3 families who showed up at 8am to clean before a stake women’s conference scheduled to begin at 9am followed by a luncheon. I found bowls of half-eaten food scattered around multiple rooms, congealed ice cream all over the kitchen counters, filthy stinky restrooms without necessary supplies. I did what I could to make the kitchen and restrooms functional while an early arriving stake presidency member cleaned up the bowls of bad food. The rest just had to be a mess. Sorry. Never again—wouldn’t have happened then if my wife were not the stake RS president. Enough is enough.
    On the other hand, there have been occasions when enough showed up to make it an opportunity to work together — a very rare thing in my experience since the demise of local building funds, fund raising, etc.

  43. I know in my ward before they started making assignments I was getting calls 4 times a year to go clean, when it should be once every 16 months or so. It was because they were asking for volunteers. Nobody would volunteer, so I got called to help. The same 4-5 families were doing all of the cleaning. I don’t doubt that there may be a better way than making assignments, but I must confess that I got a little frustrated that it was the same families doing all the cleaning (I’m in a ward on the Wasatch Front in Utah, so we’re a fully staffed ward with lots of families).

    I don’t understand what’s so hard about just telling them you can’t when they inform you that you’ve been scheduled.A former coordinator used to tell us that they have a schedule, that we should look at it and if we’re not available on the date scheduled, we can talk to another family and make a trade. I thought that worked out fairly well.

  44. If everyone just said no and stopped cleaning, I’m pretty sure the church would quickly find a way to scrounge up the money to pay janitors again. They can afford to fund a trip to Rome for the entire Q15 and their wives (and their friends), so maybe members should demand that they share the wealth a little bit (it’s the members’ wealth, after all).

  45. Nothing evidences courage quite like opting out of church cleaning. Truly, truly inspiring. And original too.

  46. Randy Jones says:

    Every time I go to clean our church, the quote from PT Barum runs thru mind mind ” There is a sucker born every minute. ” Why am I cleaning a church for a multi billion dollar corpration that has billions just in the stock market, making more billions of dollars?. It makes me feel really me feel stupid. Our effort only goes to help a billion dollar corpration become a trillion dollar corpration.

  47. Nobody, really: Nine hours? Four hours? I give one hour, two hours tops. If everyone shows up, it’s sufficient. If everyone doesn’t, well then the next time I just pick a different thing to clean. I would never spend the entire or even half of a Saturday cleaning the building.

  48. 1) Scheduling meetings without regard for someone’s schedule is just rude. Full stop. Especially if the meeting has not been requested by one of the parties. You wouldn’t be able to get away with that in the professional world and you shouldn’t feel free to do so in the pastoral world.

    2) I just can’t with members cleaning church buildings. When I was a kid, back in the 80’s and 90’s, a member was paid to clean our ward building. He was in charge of all janitorial and building maintenance duties and he was excellent. Then the Church decided to stop paying for janitors and ever since then it’s been a total crapshoot, sometimes literally. Not only can the Church afford to pay for housekeeping staff, it would be able to employ local members, giving them a solid wage. Because you know that brother who was in charge of maintenance? Yeah, he lost his job, one that supported his entire family. Frankly, there’s no harm in employing someone and, as noted above, very little benefit to whatever service wardmembers would otherwise provide.

  49. TataniaAvalon says:

    As someone who has been on assistance a couple of times I have to say that all the “rules” that are built up around the assistance is exhausting. For example my husband and I recently ran into trouble and had to ask for assistance. This was the first time with the ward and the bishop told me he usually only gave orders out to active members. Why? Did Jesus say help the needy in only circumstances. No he did not. Now if I had been asking for assistance several times then I can see the bishop asking for certain things as they want to make sure I’m not relying on it. That said When I met the bishop he saw that I had not had a temple recommend in X years and said I should work on getting it back (which I am not interested in). I demurred at the time. This past week I got a text from the secretary that the bishop wanted to meet about my temple recommend. It came out of nowhere for me as I had shown no interest when he first stated something about it. I politely declined.

    As far as cleaning the church goes I can see both sides to the argument. Without scheduling you’re likely to get no one to show up. With scheduling I would have problems with them assuming that I am available/or want to help.

  50. Not a Cougar says:

    Megan, my experience in government and private employment that people schedule meetings expecting me to be there without checking with me all the time. It’s incumbent on me to decline to attend and let people know I won’t be there and to suggest another meeting time if the meeting can be rescheduled or to send someone in my place.

    As to your second point, there are lots of good things the Church could do with tithes and offerings. Just off the top of my head I can think of: creating or subsidizing childcare, re-expanding the Church secondary school system (I believe a few of those still exist in the Pacific) in areas where education is difficult to obtain, expanding the bishop’s storehouse to include food kitchens for the homeless, or setting up a program for students to obtain medical training and have the Church then employ them to use that medical training in areas of the world where access to medical care is scant. Any of those would likely create jobs for wonderful brothers and sisters to bless the lives of others, AND they would be expensive and require taking funds away from other areas of Church focus. When you say you just can’t, do you mean you physically can’t or simply that you shouldn’t have to do so? If the latter, why? Also, what Church programs would you be willing to de-fund (and believe you are in the realm of the possible – leadership isn’t about to shutter a few temples or cut missionary numbers) to pay for janitorial services?

  51. Didn’t read the comments. Bishop here (insert any Ward Council level calling). I was too busy. I take your point on ministering interviews and we do our best to simply invite to those. Building cleaning? Nah. Set a schedule. If you can’t be there let us know. If you don’t want to help clean the building let us know and we will take you off the list.

  52. Yet Another John says:

    I’m just thankful I’m being asked to clean a building and not pick up family and move to the Muddy Mission or give up my fishing business to follow an itinerant preacher.

  53. I understand those individuals who physically can ‘t help clean the building not participating. And there are certainly those who legitimately are too busy (though I think those are quite unusual) to give an hour a couple times a year. But for everybody else (including those receiving assistance), I can only shake my head.

  54. In my professional life, people schedule meetings with the understanding that it is a request for my time. A meeting appointment is normally accompanied with a description of what will be discussed. This includes my boss, who understands I have work to do.

    At church, I have encountered priesthood leaders who use meetings to exercise their authority over others. Appointments are made with short notice, with the expectation that participants will drop everything to meet the leader’s convenience. If a member can’t attend, it is held against them. I don’t like being asked to show up at a specific time and having to wait while other meetings run over, so I no longer accept same-day appointments.

    I got tired of being blind-sided by a leader who extends a calling or calls me to repentance (depends on what day it is) and expects an immediate response, so now I require an advance explanation for why the meeting is being held. This has surprised some executive secretaries, but I’ve said that unless they want to schedule a second meeting, all the parties involved need to prayerfully prepare.

    As far as cleaning the building goes, full time janitorial staff should be part of the church’s building budget. Expecting the people who grind cheerios into the carpet to come back later in the week to clean up after themselves has been a fail.

  55. east of the mississippi says:

    Thirty plus years we had a paid custodian, usually a member, and it was for a few hours a week. We need to go back to that.

  56. Jack Hughes says:

    I’m seeing comparisons being made to professional settings, where its common to have involuntary meetings and appointments scheduled, with the expectation that one will either adjust their life to make the appointment or negotiate a mutually acceptable alternative with a superior (reschedule, send a replacement, etc.). This reflects my professional life, too, but it is not a valid comparison to a Church meeting or assignment. I don’t give the Church as much power over my life as I do my job or my family. The Church does not provide me with a livelihood, health insurance or the means to temporally support my family, nor does it provide me with recreation or enjoyment. The Church should consider itself lucky that I’m willing to give up 2 hours a week for it. The institution needs me a lot more than I need it. And while I can only speak for myself, I believe there is a not-insignificant and growing number of frustrated Church members who feel likewise. Being involuntarily scheduled or assigned feels like the institutional Church trying to take back power from me, which I’m not OK with.

    Bishops and other leaders would be wise to remember that the Church is an all-volunteer organization, and that there is nothing stopping me or anyone else from walking out the door and never coming back.

  57. Jack, I understand your angst. But I can assure you that your bishop asking you to help keep the chapel presentable for Sunday morning worship is assuredly not a power play.

  58. Occasionally, I get the sense that some think the church is just some institution made up by men for social reasons, and not an organization created and led by Jesus Christ for our benefit–a vehicle to assist us in our journey to return. So when I take 2 hours out of my week to attend meetings, I’m not doing it for the benefit of some corporation–I’m selfishly doing it for my own edification. Hopefully, I can also contribute something to the efforts of others to become more like our Savior. If I saw it as just a social organization I think I’d prefer to take my 10% and socialize some other way. I certainly still have a lot of flaws, but believing that when I show up on Sunday I’m somehow gracing others with my presence doesn’t happen to be one of them.

  59. Rockwell says:

    Well I feel late to the game here.

    I think it’s worth noting that the people scheduling the meetings and cleaning were also volun-told to do the scheduling. I mean, it’s true that many people want to be in the presidency or bishopric (not so much the cleaning coordinator), but nobody really applies and asks for these positions. At least, we hope not. And there is a lot of pressure not to turn them down.

    I have been in the position of asking people to clean the church. I hated it. Worst calling ever, except for ward mission leader. Just before getting the calling I had decided that I couldn’t hold a teaching calling due to having so many doubts, so I would only accept a calling that didn’t require teaching. It was the first non-teaching calling I remember having, save one short term thing ten years prior. I guess the bishopric was inspired?

    I know some people thought I was rude, but I just didn’t have time to worry about it. I published a schedule and gave a blunt reminder of when their assignment was, and when possible, which was most of the time, I showed up to help. One time someone in the bishopric encouraged me to make sure everyone cleans at the same time (side note: church training says to have all the volunteers pray together before cleaning). So when I (foolishly) tried to encourage a family the next week to meet at the same time, they were quite miffed. I never did that again.

    There are a lot of things the church asks us to do that might be rude. Proselyting by knocking on doors is rude. Asking people to be baptized before they know what they are getting involved with is rude. Asking people if they are wearing the right underwear is rude. Telling people they need to pay ten percent of their income in order to be at their daughter’s wedding is rude. There just simply are not any boundaries.

    So my hot take is this: if someone schedules you for a meeting, just tell them if your going to be there or not. Don’t worry about who is being rude, whether them by asking or you by declining.

    But by all means, if you or anyone else dislikes the practice, let’s talk about better ways to do things. I’m in favor of paid janitors, paid bishops, ending ministering interviews, taking volunteers for callings, andn would look forward to other ideas.

  60. Our old stake president banned the practice of signup sheets/asking for volunteers, and instituted what he called “the law of assignments”: the Church tells you where and when to show up, and you better do it. Any other way of doing things would be introducing an unwelcome spirit of rebellion to God’s kingdom.

    For years, this iffy piece of doctrine was assigned by the stake as a theme for sacrament meetings talks and fifth Sunday lessons, in which members spoke reverently of “the law of assignments” and how lucky we were to have it. It was weird to see how quickly it became part of the theological fabric of the whole area. I’m not sure how many people knew that he had just made it up.

  61. Kenzo, we had the same thing come up in our stake a few years back. It still gets mentioned once in a while.

  62. Kenzo, Mike, It showed up here, too But quietly and quickly disappeared because it didn’t work (for anything except building cleaning – and poorly at that) and was not made a theme of sacrament meeting talks or fifth Sunday lessons.

  63. Stephen Fleming says:

    I’d assume that bishops are quite aware of everyone’s volunteer status, including their own. But the church has both an ideology of conventing with one another, and a history of communal shared labor that building clean up is a small remaining remnant of. Seeing resentment toward these acts of communal work makes me feel like something important about the church is being lost.

  64. Stephen, I don’t see a lot of resentment at cleaning the building. (Yearning for the days of paid custodians, yes, but not resentment at cleaning.) The resentment I’m reading is at being told when to do it.

    And frankly, I share that resentment. It seems tremendously presumptuous to me to feel comfortable telling someone who is not your minor child or your employee what to do when (and it might be presumptuous even with your employee). To be completely honest: I know my schedule better than a building cleaning coordinator. And, in my case, during soccer season, that involves three kids playing AYSO soccer.

    The cool thing about AYSO is that it’s awesome. The less cool thing is, at least in Chicago, games can start as early as 8 and as late as around 4. So one week, we may have all the kids playing between 10 and noon. Another week, the first game may be at 8 and the last may end at 5. (Add to that that I coach one kid’s team and my wife another kid’s.) And that’s only one activity in our schedule.

    So I’m happy to volunteer and help when I’m available. I’m less happy being told to be available.

    So, you might say, find a replacement. Or say no. (FTR: I’m personally happy to say no.) That’s fine for extroverts who have friends and family in the ward, or for people who are willing to say no. But the church has a strong culture of not saying no, and is filled with members who may not have a broad personal network in the ward, or may not have the type of personality that allows them to ask.

    So ask for volunteers. Or even ask in a targeted way–“Hey Sam, we need the church cleaned next Saturday. Could you help?” But don’t tell me I’ve been assigned to clean the building in three weeks (or, worse, three months–soccer starts in about a month, and teams aren’t assigned yet, much less game times).

  65. Sam, everybody’s mileage likely varies, but I do see resentment (or something like it) at cleaning the building. Otherwise, we’d have people volunteering to do so, and we don’t. I understand able-bodied people not wanting to do it. I just think they should consider what happens if they don’t: a very small number of families in the ward always ends up doing it. Is that fair?

  66. ‘Or even ask in a targeted way–“Hey Sam, we need the church cleaned next Saturday. Could you help?” ’

    Sam, will you make your ward better for everyone in it by telling the bishop that you would like to volunteer to be the cleaning coordinator? That way, you can be instrumental in implementing the higher and better way at least in your location. Who knows how far your influence may spread. I doubt that the person with that calling currently will object to being replaced.

  67. Mike, I don’t think people aren’t cleaning the building out of resentment. If I had to take a wild guess, I’d say it’s inconvenience (or, if one is less charitably inclined, laziness). For many, it takes some effort to get to the building, and to actually clean, etc.

    And I don’t see assigning people when to come as mitigating the unfairness of a small number of people cleaning the building. If anything, it seems to me that will compound the unfairness, because the scheduler will assume that a full contingent of people will show up, but many won’t. Because out of a cultural politeness, we don’t say no with our mouths, but we do with our choices.

    at, absolutely not. Why on earth would I do that? And who are you to ask me to?

  68. Stephen Fleming says:

    Sam, I understand that we proceed with imperfect systems. My goal as bishop is to get feedback from people so that there’s buy-in from the ward.

    Before I was bishop, there was all this tension in elder’s quorum about people not showing up for cleaning. At that time, the ward did it an a purely voluntary basis with no sign up sheets and no alphabet system of assignments. There was so much frustration that several of the brothers proposed the alphabet assignment system in elders quorum, so when I was called to be bishop one of the first things I did was to go into elder’s quorum and say, “I heard the alphabet idea proposed. Do you all want to do that?” and asked for a show of hands and the majority was in favor. So we proceeded with that, though there was come balking. But my view was the the old system was unacceptable since it left a very few people doing it all the time and all the overflowing frustration.

    Things are a little better but I still have a hopeful vision of lots of happy people showing up and enjoying the camaraderie of mutual service. So I frequently ask in ward council if the alphabet system is what they want to do and they say yes, because many of them are the overburdened people that were overloaded under the old system.

    So when the numbers still seem lower than they ought to be, I get up and make a little speech during sacrament announcements about how we covenant with each other at baptism and Zion is about bearing each other’s burdens.

  69. Stephen, that strikes me as better than a top-down imposition (which is, in my experience, generally the way things like this work). If the ward is asking for alphabeticized assignments, that’s different from the bishop saying, We’re just assigning you. (It still wouldn’t work for me, personally, though.)

  70. I’m confused why people would be expected to clean the building all together at a certain time. Is it to make sure the building is open?

    When I’m asked to help clean the church on a Saturday morning at an inconvenient time for me, I’ve never had a problem going to the church at a different time during the week (perhaps Thursday or Friday evening) and completing my share of tasks. If I don’t have a key, I can always borrow one from someone else.

  71. Stephen Fleming says:

    And I’m all for people letting us know that there are times that don’t work for them and then proposing other times that do work. I just think everyone should pitch in somehow, and a little coordination makes sense too.

  72. We are assigned in my ward, with the understanding we can swap. Each week has a lead family which can be called if you have issues swapping. We also have keys available if you want to go in and complete some of the cleaning at a different time (my preference). The assignments are in Sunday’s program and the ward newsletter. Many less-active families help clean. Absolutely no problems in over a year. I consider cleaning a social activity, but I am in a friendly ward. Cleaning is the great equalizer, everyone does it regardless of status.

  73. This, and a number of other such communal responsibilities in the Church often feels like the story many of you have heard:

    “Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have.”

    There are a number of problems that individual members encounter when it comes to these kinds of responsibilities: inability to access the Church (can be a challenge to get keys if a system isn’t in place), time conflicts if a designated time is requested, and not enough people showing up so the work becomes onerous (many hands make light work, natch).

    Very few people like cleaning. It’s not a fun activity but it can be enjoyable if you’re with people you know and enjoy spending time with. But still there is often reluctance to participate.

    But what responsibility do we individually have? To ensure that our part of the work is done. If you attend Church then you own some of the externalities and unless you’re physically incapable owe that effort to the community/Ward. A structure makes sense and when we’re confronted with an assignment that doesn’t align to our availability what I have done is suggested that I know for certain we won’t be available for certain weeks / months. So I look at the schedule / the number of times each family needs to participate, and evaluate how often our family should be assigned and then we might sign up for 2 or 3 weeks in sequence according to our schedule in order to ensure we’ve done our part. Or when a structure (alphabetical / assignments) is in place I try to let the scheduler know in advance this is our preference so that we can contribute but manage our schedule.

    Every member has a responsibility to be “agents unto themselves” (D&C 58:28) and contribute but also control our own availability as well. You know the job needs to be done. You know someone has responsibility for coordinating. If you do not like how they do it, instead of getting offended do the right thing and help them help you make your contribution.

    If we don’t want to be commanded in all things then we have the responsibility to help make it work. I get there may be exceptions – there are always exceptions – but we should try to be the anybody so that it doesn’t turn out that nobody winds up doing the job.

  74. My goodness. Someone has to run a vacuum to clean up the Cheerios so we can have a pleasant communal experience Sunday mornings. Accept the opportunity. You will likely feel good about it. If you truly are unable or unwilling to give up 30 minutes (or whatever) to run a vacuum or wipe some glass, get off the list. There will be no hard feelings I am certain. And move on. All this discussion about picking up the programs is silly. Share the load.

  75. My goodness, sw, it takes 45 minutes just to vacuum the glitter off a single short pew. For some of us the problem is not willingness to share the load. It is others’ unwillingness to exercise a modicum of care, responsibility, and sharing the load. I hope the mess-makers in my building are unique to it in the whole church.

  76. Angela C says:

    JR: I am thrilled that those damn glitter dresses have fallen out of fashion. You are right that the mess they leave behind is nearly impossible to clean up. Too lightweight for the vacuums.

  77. Isn’t having first world problems a pain?

  78. Tatania Avalon Let me apologize to you on behalf of the organization that calls itself the Church of Jesus Christ .The fact that your bishop treated you like that is absolutely reprehensible. Tell your bishop to read the Sermon on the Mount Matt5:42. the Greek word ” ask’ is better translated “beg”. Tell him to read King Benjamin’s discourse on what it means to take upon ourselves the name of Christ and how we are to treat beggars .Mosiah 3. Tell him to read the church hand book which tells Bishops to actively seek out those with needs .I served for 12 years in bishoprics ,8 as bishop .His response to you should disqualify him from serving for a moment longer .I would even go into how pursuant to Section 121 and 122 he has probably forfeited his priesthood power . no wonder my friends accuse me of belonging to a mega real estate development firm which simply masquerades as a church.

  79. Wizard of Oz says:

    I don’t have a problem too much with building cleanup being assigned like that. In our building we rotate each month among the wards in the building. With 3 wards in the building, our ward is responsible 4 times a year. In the past, a reasonable number of families were assigned each week and you typically only had to clean once or twice a year. Recently they have gone to assigning all active families a week sometime every time our ward is responsible for cleanup. More people are assigned than is necessary and I get assigned 4 times a year. Sometimes the assignment is received only a week before. I wouldn’t have a problem if it was months in advance or even one month in advance. Unfortunately, this practice seems to assume not everyone will show up but there should always be enough to get the job done which seems to make me feel that if I can’t make it, it’s no big deal. Sometimes our children have sports or other commitments on a Saturday morning so we have cleaned on Friday night. No one has complained. We always let those in charge know that’s our plan and what we accomplished.

    As for ministering interviews, I have never just been assigned a time without being contacted first to see if that would be okay. One EQ presidency did a total open house setup at the home of one member of the presidency and would have treats and invited people to come a particular time. I always stayed longer than my appointment just to visit with others and have a cookie.

  80. Sounds like there is a lot of unhappy members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints…I suggest that you reevaluate your life to determine if that is the Church you want to attend. There are a lot of other churches that require very little of you…you don’t even have to pay tithing! Many of you complain about being automatically signed up to clean the building that you worship in (1-2 times a year)…that your kids eat cereal in…that your kids run their hands down the glass doors…why are you a member?

    How often to do many of you voluntarily sign up for:
    cannery assignments
    ministering interviews
    feeding the missionaries
    misc service projects

    I would guess very rarely or never. It sounds like an onerous church which nobody would want to be part of. You definitely haven’t convinced me. I guess you don’t believe in every member a missionary either…lol

  81. Confused this is such an interesting and telling response. Sort of like America “ love it or leave it”. Does it not occur to you that constructive criticism is the highest form of love. Organisms or institution that reject outside stimulus or suggestions atrophy and die. Is this your response to Moroni when he complains about how we have transfigured the holy word of God or have corrupted the holy church of God. Mormon 8 . Would you tell him just move along and find someplace else because we don’t tolerate criticism even if it is accurate. If that is your church you are right I want no part of it. That however is not my church. It is not the church of Christ.oh to respond to your personal attack on my commitment to the gospel ,I do feed the missionaries regularly, my stake calling requires more than 45 hours a month in addition to normal church attendance. I have one of the heaviest ministering assignments in my ward I have served in multiple bishoprics, including bishop for 8 years. Served in multiple HC , served as a TW in multiple temples so please don’t judge my commitment to the Savior or the gospel or my religious community. You might reflect upon however your remarkably judgmental approach to these issues.

  82. Who will the Lord look less favorably upon on Judgement Day, I wonder….someone who complains a little about being scheduled to do one more thing, when they are completely burned out and overwhelmed with life? Or someone who actively encourages people to leave the church if they don’t like it?

  83. Yikes, Confused! First place award for sanctimony and being judgemental!

  84. I was going to add a Second Place award for awarding the Sanctimony and Judgment prize, but that would require me to take Third Place. So, I won’t.

  85. Not to be snarky, but some of the people in my ward who don’t help clean are not at the end of their rope.

  86. I meant to add that I’ve known them for years, we’re friends, and there’s nothing stopping them from helping. Not everyone, but . . .

  87. Maybe. Or is it possible that they choose not to share their struggles with you, in order to avoid feeling your disapproval raining down on them from your high horse? Who knows? But we’re all just using conjecture here.

  88. I don’t have a horse, but when I did it was a Shetland, so not that high.
    Look, I get it that there are people who simply cannot get there. But not 100% of them. I don’t buy that it’s the same 5 families each and every time who are the only ones that can make it. That’s not a judgment, it’s just a logical observation. The ward consists of 420 people. Ten of those clean the church. Of the remaining 410, there is a subset that cannot do it and a subset that can. I don’t have to know who is in which subset to know that there are some folks not coming who can.
    Full stop.

  89. Mike, so what? I’m not completely clear on how it’s your business who cleans or why they clean the building, or why you should care. If you do your cleaning twice a year, good for you. If others don’t, chances are likely that they have reasons. Their reasons may be compelling in your opinion, or may be frivolous. But it’s not your business why they make the choices they make; there’s no reason they need to justify it to you, and you don’t have any right to judge their decisions. You have the obligation to love them (or, at least, work toward loving them) in all of their perfection and imperfection. Full stop.

    In the meantime, telling people what to do and when is insanely presumptuous.

  90. “How it’s my business”? Well, like those who feel free to complain that they’re asked to help clean, I feel somewhat free to express my frustration that able-bodied persons want to foist upon me the constant responsibility to step up for them. That’s so what.
    And frankly, Sam, I never asked them to “justify to me” their reasons for not doing so. And my “judging” is of a nameless, faceless subset. Loving a subset of people doesn’t mean I can’t also notice they’re not helping.

    I think what is insane is just expecting people to intuit that the building needs cleaning and if the inspiration ever hits us we might meander over and pitch in. I get that the OP was on telling people when they’re assigned and expecting them to just come over, but the discussion seems to have expanded into something along the lines of “don’t even think about believing that able-bodied people ought to pitch in.” In a perfect world, I would clean the building with nary a thought that someone else could pitch in, but I don’t live in that world yet. So I will exercise my god-given agency and wonder why able-bodied people would rather argue than pull a handcart across the plains . . . .I mean, spend an hour vacuuming a place of worship a couple times a year.

  91. Mike, first, nobody is “foisting” anything on you. You take on that responsibility. Though it looks like grudgingly. Second, the argument is less people claiming others “ought not pitch in” but more “stop judging those that don’t.” Your perceptions of what is occurring reveal much about your own motivations. And they don’t appear any better than those you are judging.

  92. That’s fine. I’m willing to accept the possibility that those who refuse to help but are able are engaged in higher causes and I just need to figure out what my higher cause is. And since my service appears to be grudging, perhaps it’s better if I beg off when they ask next time until I can get my heart straight. You guys have given me a lot to think about.

  93. this is high comedy. honestly, i am certain your priesthood leaders will sympathize and accommodate if you are unable to give an assist at the building. Honestly, it’s no big deal. But, alas, this group seems to think the bishop should just do it. Let me assure you that your bishop did not ask for the role, and doesn’t enjoy a 630 am vacuum run on Sunday. But please enjoy the fact that he does that before he goes to his seven hours of meetings and then visits the widows and the sick and the otherwise afflicted, tries to get to his kids’ activities, interviews all the youth, maybe hits a dinner with his family, takes random calls and texts from all manner of people about all manner of issues at all manner of times. And very likely does it without complaint and in a spirit of love and care for, well, you. But certainly, if your name shows up on a list because of its location in the alphabet to help empty the primary room trash canister, please feel free to not only decline the invitation to help, but also to tell your bishop that to even include you on that list is an “insanely presumptuous imposition.” your bishop deserves that candor and feedback. You should definitely charge that hill.

  94. I sat in Relief Society Sunday and watched the list for signing up for cleaning the temple get passed around the room with no one signing it. I am new in my ward and was a little surprised until I realized the only women in that meeting were all either elderly, quite elderly in most cases, or mothers of babies they were holding in their arms.
    I do not pretend to know a better way. I too have resented being assigned tasks such as bringing food to a party I was not planning on attending, but I now realize that may be the only way to get certain things done unless some one wants to live on the phone calling the members. And then there is the problem when the person bringing the paper plates does not show up to the activity. I ran into two other group leaders at Kentucky Fried Chicken one Sunday evening when the people who signed up to provide a main dish to our small group dinners did not show at three of the six dinners.

  95. Billy Possum says:

    The problem the OP so pointedly raises is not new in the Church. My pet-peeve version is full-time missionary usage of the English verb “to commit.” In my mission and every mission in which I’ve lived, many missionaries would say:

    “Tonight, we committed them to pray about the Book of Mormon.”

    I have never heard a non-missionary English speaker use this sense of the verb, which is usually reflexive, in this transitive way (where it takes a third person as a direct object). In addition to being unusual, this usage is deeply nonsensical and cynical: it assumes that one can unilaterally produce a commitment in someone else, and for which that other will ostensibly be accountable. How Satanic! The honest phrase would be:

    “Tonight, we *asked them* to commit to pray about the Book of Mormon.”

    This implies that “they” have control over the level of commitment that “they” make. It celebrates “their” agency.

    At least the “you have been scheduled” messages, with their passive voice, are syntactically honest about the fact that it’s someone other than the recipient who did the scheduling (that’s a . . . step?). But it’s also, apparently, the next in a long line of linguistic bullyings into choosing the right. How unfortunate.

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